The Seattle Seahawks need help along their offensive line, and in one possible scenario, Duane Brown, the former Pro Bowl left tackle who's holding out from the Houston Texans, may be available in a trade.
Let's a take a closer look at that possibility.
Seahawks will always look. You can be certain the Seahawks have at least looked into a potential trade for Brown, who's held out since the spring. The Seahawks look into pretty much everything. General manager John Schneider has said countless times that it's a point of pride that Seattle's front office explores every opportunity it sees to improve the team's roster, even if a trade/signing never materializes most of the time. That's important context for what Denver sports radio host Benjamin Allbright tweeted Monday, the same day the Seahawks worked out free-agent left tackle Branden Albert. Allbright said the Seahawks did so with an eye toward driving down Houston's asking price for Brown, which has set off a great deal of speculation in the Pacific Northwest.
Help is needed. The Seahawks' offensive line has shown improvement since its disastrous performance in a season-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers, but it's still holding Seattle's offense back. Russell Wilson has been sacked 14 times through five games, but sack totals don't tell the full story because of how Wilson escapes so many of them. More telling is this: Wilson has been pressured -- sacked, under duress or hit -- on 31.9 percent of his dropbacks this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's the fifth-highest rate among qualified quarterbacks. Second-year left tackle Rees Odhiambo has struggled while starting for the first time. And left guard Luke Joeckel will likely miss Seattle's next game, at a minimum, while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. He's expected to have the surgery this week with the Seahawks on a bye. Brown made his third Pro Bowl in 2014 and was a first-team All-Pro two years before that. His resume suggests he could help Seattle's offensive line, even at 32. But ...
Money is the first potential hangup. This is where a trade for Brown starts to become difficult to envision. His contract has two years and a little over $19 million remaining. That includes a $9.4 million base salary for 2017. Since the season is now in its sixth week, the prorated amount would be less than that. The Seahawks have a little under $2 million in cap space, according to NFLPA records, so even that lower, prorated amount of Brown's salary would be difficult for Seattle to take on. It would likely require some sort of maneuvering, whether it be trading away a player to shed salary or freeing up cap space by restructuring another player's contract, something Schneider has said he doesn't like doing. He already had to once this season when he re-worked Doug Baldwin's deal in order to take on Sheldon Richardson's $8 million salary. Hard to imagine Schneider wanting to resort to that again. And remember, Brown is holding out. What's to say he'd be any more willing to play for the Seahawks on his current deal than he is for his own team?
Draft-pick compensation could be another. We can only guess what the Texans would seek in a trade for Brown, if they're even willing to trade him in the first place. The Jacksonville Jaguars acquired Albert for a seventh-round pick in March. He's the same age and had a similar contract that Brown does. Former NFL agent Joel Corry theorized in a column for CBSSports.com that Houston would seek a first-round pick, which would be a prohibitive cost for Seattle. Even if Houston's asking price is somewhere in the middle of that range, the Seahawks would be limited in what they could give up since they already parted with their second-round pick for Richardson. That trade and others the Seahawks have made showed a willingness to trade significant draft capital for the right player. They gave up first-round picks, among other compensation, for both Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham. But Harvin was 24, Graham was 28 and Richardson is 26. At 32, Brown has much less long-term upside. It's hard to imagine the Seahawks being willing to give up much in the way of significant draft pick compensation for a player whose best football is likely behind him, especially if it also meant taking on a hefty salary.
Schneider has a long history of bold moves and the Seahawks' offensive line threatens to derail another deep playoff run in the absence of an upgrade or marked improvement from its current starting five. For those reasons, you can't rule anything out until the NFL's trade deadline passes on Oct. 31.
But with so many potential roadblocks, a trade for Brown would seem difficult to pull off.